A will is simply a legal document that explains what you want to happen if you’re gone. It describes in detail your wishes for your children, pets and belongings. In addition to a will, life insurance is another way you can provide your family with financial security. Keep in mind that the beneficiary you name in the life insurance policy is entitled to the death benefit, regardless of what is indicated in the will. The same goes for any other policies and accounts that have beneficiary designations.
Creating a will may seem like a complicated task, but a little planning upfront can make it easier. Our personal info organizer is a great tool for helping you gather the documents you’ll need to create your will.
And there are even online will-making services that can help you quickly write your own will from the comfort of your home. Some other steps to consider as you get started include:
1. Select your beneficiaries
Who do you want to have your stuff — or not have it — when you’re gone? A will lets you spell out these wishes. Make a list of everything you own that’s important to you, and specify who gets each item. Start with larger assets, such as your home, vehicle, boat or cabin, and continue the list until everything is assigned to a new owner.
One thing to note is that items pass by title first. So, if your home is jointly owned by two people and one person passes away, the remaining person on the title owns the house. The will would only come into effect if both owners passed away.
2. Select an executor
The executor is the person whom you prefer to carry out your wishes. You’ll want to choose someone who is responsible and that you trust. And you can review the will with them once it’s complete so he or she isn’t surprised by any of the requests that you’ve made. If you want, an attorney can review your will to make sure there aren’t any issues that could be disputed in court. You could even have the attorney act as the executor, just to keep things simple for your family.
3. Choose a guardian for your kids
If you have any kids under 18, choose someone to care for them. This is often one of the toughest parts of creating a will because it’s a difficult scenario to imagine. However, it’s important that you make the decision so you know who your children will be living with. This goes for your pets, too. If you pass away without a will, the courts may get involved and make these important decisions for you.
4. Find witnesses and sign your will
You must sign your will in the presence of two witnesses for it to be valid. These witnesses should not be beneficiaries under your will. Also, the state of Louisiana requires wills to be notarized for them to be legal.
5. Keep a copy somewhere safe
Once your will is finished, you can keep the original in a fireproof, waterproof place in your home, such as a safe or lockbox. Alternatively, your attorney can keep the original of your will. Give a copy of your will to your executor and let them know how to find the original.
6. Update your will
Your life is constantly changing. Marriage, a growing family and even a new home can all impact your will, so it’s important to review your will periodically to ensure that your wishes are current.
A will not only makes transferring your money and property easier and less costly, it also offers the comfort of knowing that your wishes for the people and things that matter most to you will be honored.